We drove up to two wineries in the Queenstown area yesterday before heading down to Te Anau, arriving about 5:00 p.m. Chard's Farm is lovely, with a Tuscan-style cellar door and great whites and pinots. It is up a long gravel drive with steep drop-offs to a roaring whitewater river below. Well worth the heart-stopping drive. Bill has taken to driving on the left side of the road like a champ, with lots of coaching through every round-about.
Then, we had lunch at Amifield Winery. They have a great restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor patio. Food was wonderful, and a sauvignon blanc from a single vineyard and a little oak finish that was unlike any we've had before. Absolutely heavenly. Then, we headed for Te Anau. It's about a 2 hour drive through gorgeous sheep and deer (!) ranch countryside in valleys between two steep mountain ranges. It is so strange to see herds of deer grazing the pastures. Our motel room is very nice with a small kitchen, a separate bedroom, and a view of Te Anau Lake. (Te Anau rhymes with "see the cow.")
Today we went on the Milford Sound cruise. The two hour trip on a coach between Te Anau and Milford included some of the most raw beautiful scenery we have ever seen. It is a landscape I never dreamed still existed without the ruinous influence of people. Fijordland National Park is 3 million acres of protected rainforest, wide planes with trout streams, and crashing waterfalls (literally thousands of them today because it was raining). The boat trip took us around the sound to view more waterfalls than we've ever seen in our lives. I kept thinking of the poor people of Atlanta who would have given anything for all the fresh water. It rains there 200 days out of 365 and the annual rainfall is more than 25 feet. No wonder it rained all day today.
Our luggage has yet to appear. We did get $100 each from the airline yesterday and visited the NZ equivalent of K-Mart to buy a change of underwear and some t-shirts. It's so frustrating because we have all that nice rain gear in the suitcases that we need for this weather and our trek tomorrow. They say the luggage is now in Auckland, (they said that yesterday) and should be delivered sometime tomorrow. We'll see.
This part of NZ is dramatic and un-spoiled. The people are all still friendly and helpful. We have a great landlady who is even supplying rain gear for us tomorrow.